This week has been very interesting as I felt severely embarrassed over my inability to use Scratch effectively. I decided to search for an alternative that might be easier to use, connected with my curated collection of resources and integrate seamlessly with the Draft Australian Curriculum – Technologies.
After much searching and googling I discovered a Scratch Jr Research Project. The project is being led by Professor Marina Umaschi Bers from Tuts University and Professor Mitch Resnick from the MIT Media Lab. The project aims to study and integrate the next generation of innovative technologies to support learning in the early childhood sector (Dev Tech Research Group, 2012). This consists of the development of a new version of scratch combining an appropriate interface, embedded maths and literacy in accordance with ACARA and provding an online resources which is ideal for all in the early childhood community (Dev Tech Research Group, 2012).
The areas which the developers are specifically targeting are discipline-specific knowledge due to its open ended project-based platform, foundational knowledge structures which will encourage children to build cognition in areas such as symbols, patterns, estimation and prediction and complex problem-solving skills through the creation of interactive design projects.
These specified areas interconnect strongly with the key ideas of the draft curriculum being knowledge and understanding strand and the processes and production skills strand of both the Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies content structure (ACARA, 2013). Scratch Jr will enable students from Foundation – Year 2 to plan simple step-by-step projects (with teacher support), follow directions and manage their own personal engagement with the program (ACARA, 2013). These aspects are extremely important within the curriculum and therefore, Scratch Jr once readily available will be perfect for this particular age group.
Currently, the project is reaching the later stages of development and will be made broadly available during 2013-2014, just in time for our personal teaching careers. In my opinion this is a great younger alternative for early childhood aged students and will be definitely part of the education arsenal in the future.
Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority. (2013) Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies. Retrieved March, 5, 2013 from http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Static/docs/Technologies/Draft%20Australian%20Curriculum%20Technologies%20-%20February%202013.pdf
Dev Tech Research Group. (2012). Scratch Jr – learning in early childhood through programming. Retrieved April, 2, 2013 from http://ase.tufts.edu/DevTech/ScratchJr/ScratchJrHome.asp